By Tuscaloosa News
Two years ago, West Alabama residents woke up to a new reality. The storms that swept through the state created unprecedented damage. Not since the 1974 super outbreak had anything like it occurred.
In Tuscaloosa, the landscape was altered drastically from one side of the city to the other. Parts of the city that had stood with little change for decades were unrecognizable. The pleasant, wooded shores of Forest Lake were stripped of foliage, and the lake resembled a landfill for debris.
Alberta, long known as Alberta City because of its quaint separateness from the rest of the city, was flattened. People driving to that part of the city always got their first glimpse of the area as their cars topped the railroad overpass. The view from that location was of shocking devastation.
Tuscaloosa had long dodged the worst.
Tuscaloosa residents felt for months as if they were dwelling in an alien landscape. The unfamiliar crowded in all around.
Two years later, we have grown more accustomed to our surroundings. The ugliest reminders of the devastation have largely been removed.
There are welcome signs of life as well. Some have complained that the recovery has been slow. In truth, while there might be some room for criticism, it could never be fast enough to suit us.
Some businesses along busy thoroughfares destroyed in the storm have returned better than ever.
But there are stubbornly persisting wounds left by the storm that haven’t yet closed. Mayor Walt Maddox noted at a the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama’s State of the Community breakfast Wednesday that 70 percent of the houses destroyed by the tornado were rental houses.Where many of those rental houses once stood, bare slabs and empty lots remain.
In the two years since the storm, Tuscaloosa has come far. But there is still much to be done. Recovery is an ongoing process.